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World|health|December 6, 2021 / 09:00 AM
Covid Pandemic: How India leaped up the list of best places to be as Omicron hit

AKIPRESS.COM - India vaulted 19 spots in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking of the best and worst places to be amid the pandemic, marking a turnaround for a country that saw the world’s fastest-growing Covid outbreak earlier this year, Bloomberg reported.

The South Asian country is now ranked 26th in the monthly snapshot, which measures where the virus is being handled the most effectively with the least social and economic upheaval. The league table assesses 53 major economies on 12 data-points related to virus containment, the economy and opening up.

India’s improved showing is largely due to a rapid economic reopening after daily infections dropped and the Indian government’s effort to scale-up vaccine production to increase vaccination drive.

The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 1.25 billion on Thursday. Out of this, 791 million (84.3%) people have been vaccinated for the first dose and 458 million (49%) received the second dose as per the provisional report.

High levels of natural immunity are also potentially at play in India in curbing infections. After reporting a world-record of 400,000-plus cases a day in early May as the delta variant affected the nation of almost 1.4 billion people, putting a huge burden on its health care system, new infections have now dropped to less than 7,000.

Which factors boosted India’s showing?

Of the 12 indicators that make up a nation’s Covid Resilience score, the biggest contributor to India’s rise in November was the reopening of its borders to vaccinated travellers from many places in the world. This put it in a group mostly comprised of Western developed economies that are welcoming back visitors.

The second driver for India’s jump is the increase in its flight capacity in November versus the same period in 2019, as people resumed business and leisure travel. Domestic travel traffic recovery had already been buoyant for a few months but with the addition of international flights, India is now in the top 10 for the Flight Capacity Recovery indicator.

While official cases still number in the thousands daily, its vast population means that India’s per capita infection rate is now just 23 per 100,000 people in November, almost as low as the Ranking’s November No. 1, the United Arab Emirates.

Blistering GDP growth expected in fiscal year 2022 at 9.5%, one of the highest in the world, also helped bolster its showing.

What does the situation on the ground look like now?

Pretty normal. Most restrictions across India’s states, which oversee public health matters, have been eased in recent months after cases stayed low despite the country’s peak festival season.

Malls, schools, restaurants, cinemas and bars have reopened while many workplaces are prodding employees to return to work.

With the emergence of the omicron variant, Indian health-care authorities have re-imposed airport testing as well as home quarantine for fully-vaccinated visitors from places that have detected omicron cases.

What does India need to do to further improve its ranking?

India needs to complete the double vaccination for the entire population. People under-18 years of age, are still ineligible for inoculation.

The emergence of omicron, which has been identified in more than a dozen countries within a week of being sequenced, is re-igniting fears in India, though the new variant has been detected on two travellers from Omicron affected country. The country’s high level of reopening means that any resurgence of the virus will spread more rapidly. The federal and state governments have announced various health protocols to contain the spread.

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